08 Jun 2011
Does a dish inspire a wine selection or does the wine inspire the dish? In this case, on my visit to Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, the wine definitely inspired the dish and the chef. Grown and bottled on the estate, the 2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel blanc inspired my chicken piccata cooking frenzy this evening. With notes of lemon, honey, spice, and a slight mineral finish, it was the perfect compliment to this traditonal italian dish.
Tablas Creek Winery specializes in Rhone Varietals. The Espirit is a white blend consisting of Roussane, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul blanc grapes grown in the Rhone Valley of France. Don’t panic if you have never heard of any of these varietals. This dish could easily pair with any white wine, especially Chardonnay which flavors usually compliment, creamy buttery flavored dishes.
Here are two easy rules to follow when pairing wine and food, which I always use:
1. Compliment the dish with similar flavors in the wine. In this case, the key ingredients in the chicken piccata were lemon, capers, and butter.
2. Go opposite. For example, pairing a rich spicy pork dish with a softer, smoky red wine like Pinot Noir. Or a spicy dish with a slightly sweet wine.
3. There are no set rules to pairings. Try what works for your tastes, but I suggest trying a few traditonal pairings before you get too adventurous, especially when having dinner guests over.
4 chicken breasts rinsed and patted dry. Cut crosswise. Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Dredge lightly through flour. In a frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Cook chicken 3 minutes on each side and remove to plate. Add 1/3 cuplemon juice, 1/4 cup capers (rinsed and drained) and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Bring to boil. Return chicken to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove to plate and pour remaining sauce over chicken. Garnish with parsley.
Tablas Creek Vineyard 2009 Espirit De Beaucastel Blanc. $40. Divine.
2009 La Crema Chardonnay $14.99. Bevmo and most grocery stores.
04 Jun 2011
It never fails that when I’m in search of a perfect red wine to bring home with me, that somehow a white wine does a sneak attack on my pallette and blows me away. This was such the case this weekend in Amador and Calaveras Wine Country. Both Shenandoah Valley and Murphys offers some great small production finds.
I was hell bent on finding a red, particularily a great Barbera. By the way, the best Barbera thus far in that region I’ve tried is at Indian Rock Vineyards in Murphys . And for only $18, it’s a steal. Indian Rock Vineyards 2007 Barbera.
But this trip, I wanted to find another great red. At Wildrotter Vineyard in Shenandoah, the staff was friendly and when asked, would you like to taste whites or reds today?, I shrugged my shoulders and said oh, let’s go ahead and start with the whites, I guess. Boom, Viognier! Luscious, floral, and a great summer wine. I ended up purchasing a bottle. Wildrotter Vineyards 2009 Viognier. Priced at $21.
Down the road inMurphys, the main street is lined with tons of tasting rooms and it’s hard to choose which to try first. On prior recommendation, I stopped at Bodega Del Sur Winery tasting room, located in a little alley behind the main shops. The best white wine on their tasting menu was a portugal varietal grape called Verdelho. The wine has a wonderful grassy and herbal aromas and although described as equivalent to a sauvignon blanc, I found the wine to be much more luscious and complex. Bodega Del Sur Alta Mesa 2008 Verdelho. Priced at $18. Quantities limited.
Lastly, at Tanner Winery tasting room, you can pick up a magnificent Rose, crisp, not to sweet and perfect as an appertif with cheese and light appetizers. Tanner Vineyards 2009 Doux Rose. Priced at $17.
Happy Wine Hunting!
13 Mar 2011
Seeking a wine bar to write about on Saturday afternoon, my girlfriend suggested Vintage Wine Bar located in Santana Row in San Jose. Suited for people watching, the Vintage Wine Bar is located amongst trendy restaurants and shops. The Wine Bar is small with only outdoor patio seating.
The menu consisted of a good variety of international wines with an emphasis on California wines. My personality is to always see what others are having and then say to myself, Huh, I should have ordered that. But, in the world of wine, you live and you learn.
I ordered a flight of three tastes; a 2006 Mitarte Rioja from Spain, a 2007 Chateau Tanunda Shiraz from Australia, and last a 2007 Le Roc des Anges Cotes du Rousillon. Out of all three, I enjoyed sipping the Rioja the most for it’s fruitiness and rich red berry flavor and hint of spice. The Shiraz has some added mineral elements that I liked, but fell only slightly higher than a bargain house red I could find anywhere. The Cotes du Rousillon grew on me after letting it sip for a few moments and then trying it again. It definitely brought it much more complexity and floral hints once I appreciated and gave it a chance.
If you are in the area and looking to try a wine bar, I would rate Vintage Wine Bar on a scale of 1-10 at about a 6. The location is great for sitting and people watching, but the wine and the service is not as good as other places.
Photo by Joe Ercoli at anvilimage.com.
Happy Wine Hunting!